Last week I was in Brussels for FOSDEM, and then went to Config Management Camp and in Ghent. I’m still catching up from the week, but wanted to take a moment to note some of the highlights.

First, FOSDEM was incredible, for a number of reasons.

I’ve never been to a FOSDEM, so while I had some idea of what to expect, the reality was still kind of overwhelming. FOSDEM has an estimated attendance of 5000. Estimated, because it’s free and they don’t actually count. Instead, they estimate based on how many devices are on the wireless network. I could easily believe 5000. It was spread across several buildings at the University of Brussels, and they were all packed, all the time.

In addition to the size, the community aspect of it was amazing. While most events I go to have strong corporate involvement, FOSDEM is all about Free/Open Source project communities. There were no companies with tables (although there was an obvious strong Red Hat presence, just judging by the hats), and every table/booth was run by a project community. And the folks at the tables were all (at least the ones I talked to) knowledgeable about the projects, rather than being marketing or sales types. So, a deeply technical audience.

I was at the RDO table on Saturday, and I had some RDO branded swag to give away. I tried to give it only to people with whom I had a meaningful conversation about RDO, but was still all out of everything within about 5 hours, with nothing left either for Sunday or the other two events.

The event was, as I said, at the University, while most people were staying downtown, several miles from the venue. This meant that we had to take the bus back and forth to the venue. This was kind of stressful, especially the first day when my instructions were “follow the crowd.” Being somewhere where I can’t read the signs, trying to figure out a public transport system, is pretty intimidating. But I managed to get where I needed to go.

The evening events were likewise overwhelming, with thousands of geeks descending upon venues designed for a few dozen.

It was also awesome to catch up with old Apache friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years, and some of whom I’ve talked with for years and never met in person.

On Monday morning, I met several colleagues for breakfast, and then got on the train to Ghent. We arrived just in time for the start of the Configuration Management Camp, which was another deeply technical event around configuration management, monitoring, and automation. In a short time, I learned a lot about puppet, chef, and foreman. On Tuesday, I attended some of the morning sessions, but spent about 5 hours or so walking around Ghent, which is a lovely little city.

On Wednesday, Red Hat sponsored, which was attended almost entirely by people who had been at the config management camp the previous two days – so lots of hard-core DevOps kinds of folks. There were some great presentations.

And I also spoke, talking about measuring OpenStack with Ceilometer. There was some strong reactions to my talk, critiquing Ceilometer’s approach to monitoring, and I’m looking forward to pursuing that conversation further, to see if there are concrete recommendations for what Ceilometer could do differently going forward.

Back home again, after the expected delays in Atlanta, and the water heater burst a few hours after I walked into the door. But … that’s another blog post.

I have lots to catch up on, as I never seemed to have a moment to read email or other daily tasks. And I’m gearing up to go to SCALE next weekend, where I’ll give a modified version of the Ceilometer talk, as well as giving a mod_rewrite talk, and a talk titled “Write a Better FM”. See some of you there.